Preliminary probe finds Matara hospital consultant negligent

Amputation of Law student’s arm


By Norman Palihawadena and Don Asoka Wijewardena

A preliminary investigation conducted by the Health Ministry into the amputation of a final year law student’s left hand, has revealed that the Matara hospital doctors’ negligence was the cause.

However, acting on the orders of Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka has appointed a committee, headed by DDG Dr. Lal Panapitiya, comprising the Medical Superintendent of the Matara hospital two Consultant surgeons and an orthopaedic surgeon to conduct a complete probe into the tragic incident.

The victim, Achala Priyadharshani, of Urubokke, was admitted to the Matara hospital with a fractured arm due to a fall at home and it was put in a plaster cast.

A few days later she was admitted to the Matara hospital complaining that the plaster cast was too tight.

A Health Ministry source, who preferred to remain anonymous said that although she had complained, to the hospital staff, of a severe in the left arm, the plaster had not been removed. But, to ease the pain a pethidine injection had administered for three days as prescribed as shown on the diagnosis card. As her condition worsened, she had been transferred to the Karapitiya hospital but was refused admission, sources said, adding that if she had she been admitted to that hospital, her left hand could have been saved.

The deputy director of Matara hospital, Dr. Dilka Samarasinghe has launched a separate inquiry into the incident while the Matara police are also holding an inquiry following a complaint lodged by the victim’s parents.

When contacted, Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka said, "I hope an impartial inquiry will be conducted into the incident. We cannot arrive at hasty conclusions until the preliminary investigations are confirmed. If it is medical negligence, necessary action against the doctors or the nurses will be taken."

GMOA media spokesman Dr. Navin de Soysa said that the association was not satisfied with the Health Ministry’s procedure of holding inquiries, because the Investigations Unit should have personnel with clinical knowledge to probe all medical negligence cases. The Unit should be restructured. The medical investigations could not be done by non-medical personnel, he said, adding it was difficult to get an unbiased report on any inquiry unless the Unit had personnel with medical and clinical knowledge.

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